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Re: BMW - Driving school/show and tell - is it worth it?

Randall Paquette wrote:
> Folks,
> I have been "accepted" to the free BMW driving seminar/sales pitch.  I
> remember that another AUDI enthusiast recently reported attending one.  If
> anyone has attended, I am curious as to whether its worth taking a day off
> for.


Like you said, it's a sales pitch. Arranged with much hoopla.

I did it on 15 September in Princeton BMW. I wanted to find out what "the
ultimate driving thing" can offer for 1999 and what's the big hype is all about

I chose to drive a 328 manual, a 528 manual and a 740 auto. 
Alas, they did not have an M3 as a manual sedan. They did have the M3 automatic
but I refused to drive it coz it's pointless anyway. Oh, they also had this ugly
frog-like drop-top thing with the M engine, but I wouldn't want to be caught
dead in one of these. It was very popular with the girls tho :-)

The so-called "driving school" was simply 12 miles of streets. They give you
their map and tell you at which traffic lights to turn and set you loose, alone.
I have such "driving schools" in the everyday commute.

Below are my personal and (before you BMW types crucify me) subjective

1. The 328 sucked big time. Even Maxima is a better car.
Slow, nose heavy, vague shifter, uncertain on-centre feel in the steering,
grabby (binary: either ON or OFF) brakes as well as both the clutch and the
accelerator. Clutch was very difficult to catch at the engagement point and the
accelerator travel had a mere 1.5-2 cm between the "nothing happens" and the
"runaway train" conditions. IMO that particular clutch-gas combo in the 328 is
not appropriate for a sedan. It could be fun on a track, but if I wanted a track
car (or if I liked sports cars in general) I would have looked no further than a
944T. Alas, this 38y/o likes them with 3 volumes and 4 doors.

The suspension was nice, had about the same feel as my A4 quattro with Sport
suspension and 225/50 rubber. Still, my A4 feels a lot quicker and infinitely
more sure-footed.

I've been skeptically reading all those remarks on A4.org about the shoddy build
quality of the latest 3 series but have been attributing it to the bias in the
views of our fellow Audi drivers. BMW is too reputable and well established Co.

Well, guess what, it's all true. The build quality of the 328 series is
_nowhere_near_ that of the A4. And I am not even talking about the 318, which
interior belongs in a Tercel.
If A4 has a very classy and elegant interior, built to the highest standard, the
328 had some fancy curved grey plastic torpedo and hard, unsupporting seats
instead. The leather was light grey and hard, too thick and looked cheesy.
Oh, one more thing. I am under the impression that the 328 wanted to look like
the A4 so bad that it has also introduced the Al inlays in the torpedo. However,
in the A4 it is a matte textured very tastefully done Al, whereas in the Bimmer
the Al is polished and looks cheap. Do you know how polished Al looks like after
it had been touched by dozens of customers hands?

Bottom line: IMO one has to be nuts to spend $35k on this joke on wheels when
Mankind has come up with the A4TQ for $10k less.

Funny thing happened when I returned the car. The sales guy jumped all over me:
-"Well, HOW WAS IT?!!!".
I sed:-"It's OK, a good car".
The guy's face expressed sheer despise for me - for an ignorant schmuck who
failed to appreciate the best car in the world.

2. The 528. This car was light years better than the 328. Almost on par with the
A6. Not quite there yet but close.

Mechanically it was very good - the clutch, accelerator, gear lever, steering
feel, brakes. I would buy this car if it had AWD. The interior was also very
nicely appointed and very well executed.

3. The 740. Now, that's _The_Car_! I'd dare to say that I liked it better than
the A8. I absolutely love the elegant, shark-like outline of this car. The
interior was also impeccable, the car was fast and quiet.
Of course it wallowed like a wale in the corners, but hey, it was not designed
for a track, rather for the sybaritic long distance cruising. The GPS was neat
I'd still take the A8 for the quattro, but the 740 is a damn good machine.

I hope I did not step too hard on the toes of the BMW guys on this List. I have
expressed my very subjective opinion and I've done my best to be not too biased.

Igor Kessel
Two turbo quattros